A budget of IOUs: Millar

Gregory MP scorns Treasurer Trad's claim of budget for regions


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Regional Queensland MP Lachlan Millar has scoffed at claims Tuesday's budget is one for Queensland's regions.

Regional Queensland MP Lachlan Millar has scoffed at claims Tuesday's budget is one for Queensland's regions.

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A politician who represents more than a quarter of Queensland's land mass has rejected Treasurer Jackie Trad's claim that Tuesday's budget is one for the regions.

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A politician who represents more than a quarter of Queensland's land mass has rejected Treasurer Jackie Trad's claim that Tuesday's budget is one for the regions.

Gregory MP Lachlan Millar, speaking in Parliament on Thursday evening during the opposition's right of reply to the budget, described it as more of an IOU note than a love letter to the regions.

According to his calculations, a number of announcements for the electorate have been in previous budgets and were due for completion by now, such as the Black Gully Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrade in Emerald

"It was first announced at the beginning of May 2017 and was meant to be completed by June 2018. As they are only getting $1 million of the required $5 million, completion may still not be in sight. Take an IOU," Mr Millar said.

He said it was much the same for the Rookwood Weir, which would have positive impacts for the easternmost part of Gregory, which had an allocation of $83m in the budget, for a $352m project.

"That's a major IOU," he said, adding that the the Emerald Saleyards upgrade, another budget spend for his region, had been first announced in March this year as part of a successful application by the Central Highlands Regional Council in round four of the Building Our Regions grants to local government.

As far as the western part of the electorate was concerned, Mr Millar described the $17.9m Blackall Hospital redevelopment as always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

"Announced in 2017, it was allocated $5 million in the 2017-18 budget. But the IOU was considerably more than $12.9 million because the Palaszczuk government only delivered $361,000 of the $5 million allocated.

"In the 2018-19 budget, Treasurer Trad gave a further $1.23 million and said - and I quote- 'Whether you live in Brisbane or Blackall, Labor is doing the things we said we'd do'.

"So, now the project stars in its third budget. Will we get the over-$16 million needed to complete the project?

"No, we get a 2019-20 allocation of $2.7 million, an IOU for $13, 609,000 and the Treasurer's flattery that 'when the regions are doing well, Queensland is doing well'."

Mr Millar said the Boulia Community Hospital was in the same position, with an allocation of $3.9 million for a $7.2 million refurbishment.

"There is $100,000 allocated of the $3.1 million needed to replace the Longreach Fire Station and roughly half of the $7.6 million needed for the upgrade of the Barcaldine Power Station and substation.

"That is not investing in the regions and it certainly does not address our true infrastructure needs."

He derided talk of a record health budget, saying there was no money for the Blackwater Hospital, which catered for a town that was a major contributor to the state's coal royalties, and claimed that Woorabinda's renal dialysis patients were being transported to Rockhampton for their regular treatments.

"They are slightly better off than dialysis patients in Emerald and Longreach," he said. "For $500,000 we could have renal dialysis chairs in both those towns."

He also said that on the Central Highlands, which had suffered from a spate of suicides, people were turned away when they tried to self-refer to the Emerald Hospital's outpatient service, despite the website advising this could be done.

Mr Millar touched on cost of living issues, citing the publican at the Barcoo Hotel in Blackall "in a first world country" who "has found installing a diesel generator proved to be a sensible investment".

"Similarly, irrigated farmers are screaming out for a food and fibre tariff but I can see nothing in this budget indicating practical plans for relief," he said. "While Treasurer Trad might have said the word region nearly 40 times in her speech, this budget is not about the regions at all."

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